La Dolce VITA!
FDQ Examines the Urban For Dorinda, this
Dolls– Horsman’s Glamorous evolution was the
New Entry into the Fashion realization of a long
Doll World time dream – to create
By Marsh Matulionis the most posable
photography By dorinda Balanecki
fashion doll in the
D o you love dolls? When asked this question,
Horsman president Ken Young and Urban
doll line designer Dorinda Balanecki give
very different answers.Young loves making dolls,
especially the process of engineering them. This
passion for doll manufacturing is part of what
made Young and Balaneck’s previous release,
the Rini doll line, such a remarkable project.
On the other hand, Balanecki answers that
she simply loves dolls and that she has a large
and diverse collection. This love for dolls has
been the impetus for a lifetime of study.
From childhood, Dorinda has sewn for her
dolls and worked hard to hone all of the
various skills that serious doll collectors
desire to see in a finished product, from
hair and make-up design to restoration
It’s this common love of dolls and
the commitment to create great
dolls that brought Young and
Balanecki together. After working
together on a few smaller
projects, Ken approached
Dorinda for creative input on
the Rini line. The result is that
Horsman’s Rini doll head is
based on Balanecki’s sculpt,
and the two worked in
close partnership on Rini’s
With the Rini line
well under way, the
team began looking
This page: Vita heads downtown in her club gear, wearing a mohair wig.
Dressed doll, “Urban Edge” Vita available in Spring. Opposite page: Doug
26 •FDQ• www.fashiondollquarterly.net James of CED fame dresses Vita for an uptown event in “Tosca Diva”. www.fashiondollquarterly.net •FDQ• 27
vision for the Urban line has always been directed towards
the cutting edge: not following the trends but setting them.
Sculpting Vita was a lengthy process, Balanecki says. She
never intended to sculpt a doll from head to toe so Vita was
a challenge from the start. “I wanted Vita to be young, fresh,
and happy. I think I was successful in giving her a beautiful
face and body. I wanted her body to be athletic with muscle
tone and curves.” The only part of the doll not sculpted
by Balanecki is the hands, which were created under her
direction by a talented sculptor in China.
Working closely with the Chinese manufacturers brought
its own challenges. The language barrier was daunting at
first, but over time and many trips to Hong Kong, Dorinda
learned a reasonable amount of the Chinese language. There
were also cultural barriers to clear, but Dorinda’s own brand
of détente has been invaluable. She says, “If you believe in
something, you can make other people see your dream.
Something as simple as showing the prototype makers that
everything they said wouldn’t work, in fact really does work
if approached from a different perspective. So everyone
has learned something new.” And as challenging as the
process has been, Dorinda clearly revels in it. “From start
to finish, the design process has been fun and exciting and
long. But being able to choose everything for Vita, from
hair to fabrics to shoes and accessories, is the best job in the
Above: The preliminary face paint for the new basic Vita, which will world!”
come in three hair colors, with long, sidepart hairstyle.
With the doll’s sculpt and mechanics well in hand,
for new avenues to explore. Both Young and Balanecki Horsman assembled a team of designers to give Vita a wide
This page: Rini “Elegance” was a collaboration with Dorinda and artist Melissa Windham. Melissa has now created an exciting new facial
wanted to create a true fashion doll, and the popular 16- range of looks to offer the collectors more unique dolls. design for Vita as she walks the runway in “Tosca Diva”.
inch scale felt like the right direction. The duo’s aim was The Urban doll launch will include two dressed dolls:
to compete in this already well-populated arena but with “Tosca Diva,” costumed and coiffed by Doug James with
features unseen in other dolls of this scale. They wanted to makeup designed by Melissa Windham; and “Urban Edge,” For the fresh, young look of “Urban Edge” Vita, Balanecki, her adventures are chronicled regularly in a blog on Live
design a mature, glamorous doll that possessed the dramatic completely designed by Dorinda. who designed every element of the doll, took her inspiration Journal. The blog provides a very personal look at a lively
posability of Rini—only better. The result is Vita Richards. from the Harujuku street scene and New York and Hong and exciting character that Horsman hopes collectors will
Vita has an ankle joint that allows her to wear any shoe Balanecki chose Doug James for the “Tosca Diva” Vita on Kong club kids. “For this doll design,” Dorinda says, “I come to love as much as other fashion doll icons. The blog
from flats to spike heels. Her hands have individual fingers the strength of talents he displayed in his CED dolls, as started with the basic idea of a street kid look and the design will also provide the venue for announcements about new
so she can wear rings. And as the creative process proceeded well as Gabby and Violet. Long a fan of his work, Dorinda formed itself from there very quickly.” This doll, unlike additions to the Urban line. Collectors can read Vita’s blog
into the design stage, the persona of the new doll began to knew he was exactly the right person for this project. She “Tosca Diva,” is wigged with a wild-child, sandy blond at http://urban-vita.livejournal.com/.
materialize as well. says, “I asked him for red carpet glamour, and he really hairdo with orange tips. It’s the perfect topper to her black,
delivered!” “Tosca Diva” is dramatically beautiful. Dressed grey, and acid green club wear. This girl is chic down to her Like Rini,Young and Balanecki’s new doll is a dream come
For Dorinda, the evolution of Vita was the realization in a vivid red, floor length, silk coat embroidered with bootstraps! true for collectors who love to play with their dolls. The
of a long time dream: to create the most posable fashion swirls of blue, gold, teal, and pink over a sassy, lace-covered, posability that Horsman was committed to perfecting gives
doll in the market. Beginning with engineering concepts empire cut mini, this Vita would feel right at home on any A line of basic, nude Urban dolls is also in the works. Like Vita a range of motion and realism unseen in other dolls.
they developed on the Rini line, the team refined Vita’s Fashion Week runway. Her champagne blonde coiffeur, “Tosca Diva,” the dolls’ make-up has been designed by Her body language is positively alive!
construction features with improved mechanical points; also designed by James, is the perfect compliment to the Melissa Windham. This time, however, Balanecki asked for
they brought to the table everything they learned making ensemble. Dorinda asked Melissa Windham for a high a cleaner, simpler glamour, and the resulting look is lovely Vita will make her full debut at IDEX in January. Dorinda
Rini, and they pushed even further. Over a year in glamour make-up look, knowing the artist would nail it. and versatile. The doll will be offered in three sleek, side-part says that she and Ken Young dream of expanding the line to
development, the Urban Vita body has nineteen mechanical Windham is noted for creating exactly this look. She’s hair colors: lemon blonde, deep brunette, and fire red. offer other characters as friends and to create more beautiful
joints.Young and Balanecki feel they have been very produced some of the most beautiful, one-of-a-kind artist outfits for Vita. Based on what they’ve shown so far, this is
successful at meeting their goal in producing a unique, dolls. Her design for “Tosca Diva” is smoky, shimmery In the spirit of a modern fashion doll, Horsman has created exciting news indeed!v
beautiful, supremely posable doll. Dorinda says, “This is why elegance. The result of James and Windham’s combined a complete persona for Vita, and the lady is online. Vita
she is named Vita, which means “life” in Latin.” And the efforts is incomparable. Richards leads the life of a sophisticated New Yorker, and www.urbandollUSA.com
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